Since Ma Ying-jeou (
City councilors now claim they have the videotape to prove it.
In presenting their evidence yesterday -- scenes of unlicensed prostitutes beckoning customers near one of the city's licensed brothels -- DPP city councilors claimed the city's police were obviously incompetent, or deliberately negligent, in cracking down on the sex industry. This, they said, was a blow to the credibility of the mayor's claims that he has been tough on illegal prostitution.
After receiving complaints from a group of licensed prostitutes who said the resurgence of illegal brothels nearby had crippled their business, three DPP city councilors sent one of their assistants to secretly videotape the scene in Kuisui Street on Jan. 4 and Jan. 18.
The five-minute tape, released by Councilors Duan Yi-kang (
"Hey, you with the glasses! One for NT$1,000," said one of the women. When Wu asked why other prostitutes that had appeared earlier down the narrow lane had disappeared, another woman replied, "They're busy."
The councilors said that their investigation in Kuisui Street's licensed red-light district indicated that about 20 illegal brothels had used the three licensed brothels in the area as "cover."
Citing several examples, Duan said local police had turned a blind eye to the resurgence of illegal brothels in the area.
He said a police patrol box where on-duty police were required to sign in was located in front of an illegal brothel, and Wu said he witnessed a policeman entering an illegal brothel right after signing in.
"We really couldn't figure out why he entered the brothel," Duan quipped.
Duan also said that although two illegal brothels had had their utilities cut off by police, they were still operating when Wu visited the area, making use of privately installed water and power supplies.
Police complacency was not just to be found on the beat, Wu said, adding that several licensed prostitutes had claimed that bribes had made their way right to the top of the Mingsheng West Road local police station.
Of course, ultimate responsibility for the matter rests with the mayor, they said. And on this count, Mayor Ma's claims that the city had made strenuous efforts to clamp down on the sex industry -- and promises that it would not relent -- had been shown to be lacking substance.
"We strongly condemn Ma for reneging on his promises," Duan said.
Lee said their evidence was probably a reflection of what Taipei residents already knew, which was why several surveys conducted in December showed a general disappointment with the city's efforts in clamping down on the sex trade.
"Our discovery simply confirmed our earlier worries that the sex industry would come creeping back, entering the capital on horseback [a pun on Ma's surname, which also means horse in Chinese -- 騎馬入京城]," Chiang said.
Their claims did not go unchallenged, though neither the mayor nor the police attempted to refute the videotaped footage.
Ma told the Taipei Times that he was aware of the resurgence of illegal brothels in the city's red-light districts, adding that the police force had been beefed up in these areas to deal with the problem.
"Licensed prostitutes are legal and therefore need to be protected, so we will reinforce our crackdown [on the illegal brothels]," Ma said.
George Lee (
"But on Jan. 8, six officers were borrowed from other precincts to help out at the police station," he said.
Lee also said the crackdown is continuing despite difficulties in dealing with operators of illegal brothels who had come up with "alternative" measures to survive.
"Some use their own generators to supply electricity for their business, and we cannot simply confiscate their property," Lee said. "Some [illegal prostitutes] have even been caught using flashlights for trading."
Mayor Ma said that the city government would investigate the allegations of police bribery in a timely manner.
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